Angela Merkel duped by Russian pranksters pretending to be Ukraine’s Poroshenko
In a call, pro-Putin comedians asked Merkel’s opinion on the Minsk agreement, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and Polish reparation demands for Nazi Germany’s crimes.
BERLIN — Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel fell victim to a pair of Russian pranksters who called her pretending to be former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, excerpts from the conversation published on Monday show.
“I can confirm a phone call with a caller who had claimed to be former [Ukrainian] President Petro Poroshenko,” a spokeswoman for Merkel told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The phone call took place on January 12, with German-Ukrainian translation provided by the foreign ministry’s language service, Merkel’s office added. The ministry later confirmed it had translated the call.
In the released recording, listened to by POLITICO, fake Poroshenko asked Merkel’s opinion on the war in Ukraine, the Minsk agreement, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and Polish reparation demands for Nazi Germany’s crimes.
Toward the end, he even suggested continuing to speak in Russian to “annoy Putin.” Merkel replied, “No, we certainly won’t do that … my Russian is even worse than it was in 2014.”
Merkel said in the recording the Minsk agreement had bought Ukraine valuable time. However, she did not say anything revelatory, spoke out in favor of Western unity in the conflict with Russia, and highlighted that she does not want a “second public front” to be set up past the official channels.
“I would be fine if this remains a conversation between the two of us, and we didn’t do any major press work,” Merkel said.
It also became clear at the end that Merkel felt uncomfortable with some questions and wanted to end the call.
“Since the caller did not explain the purpose of his call and in his verbal contributions the queried topics constantly changed, the former chancellor gained the impression of an unprofessional conversation,” Merkel’s office said to Kontraste.
“This happens from time to time,” said Steffen Hebestreit, chief spokesman of the current government, on Monday.
“We try on the part of the government to be as very careful as possible, and also to always reassure and secure ourselves before such talks are agreed with each other.”
Hebestreit added he learned about the incident from media reports.
The two pranksters are Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, known as Lexus and Vovan. The pro-Kremlin comedians have repeatedly tricked celebrities and politicians — including Polish President Andrzej Duda and the U.K.’s former leader Boris Johnson — by pretending to be important figures.